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Sacramento guard De’Aaron Fox was called for a foul on the Lakers’ Dennis Schroder with 3.1 seconds remaining, with the score tied at 134-134. The foul was on the floor, with Fox hitting Schroder in the hip with his thigh as the L.A. point guard attempted to drive to the hoop. Since Sacramento was already in the penalty, the foul meant two free throws for the Lakers.
The Kings challenged the call, but after a video review, the ruling was upheld. Schroder made both free throws to cap a 27-point night on 8-for-11 shooting from the field and 7-for-7 from the foul line.
Schroder’s foul shots ended up deciding the game, as Fox’s 43-foot heave from near the half-court line hit the back rim as time expired.
Fox, who led the Kings with 34 points and nine assists, left the arena without speaking to reporters. However, he offered his thoughts on the final sequence in a since-deleted tweet, writing that the team thought it was supposed to “let the players decide the game.”
Schroder admitted the nature of Fox’s foul will often go uncalled in late-game situations but that it was the right call according to the rulebook.
“If you foul, you foul,” Schroder said with a laugh. “It’s unfortunate, because of course the game is on the line, and it’s like for free throws to win the game. I understand that point, for sure. But I mean, end of the day, you can’t foul.
“Especially when you’re in the bonus. He had a hell of a game, was hot, played great. For me, an All-Star with that team in fifth place, he’s doing a great job with that team.”
Schroder and Lakers center Thomas Bryant have been playing like stars in their own right after they both missed a chunk of the start of the season, as they coincidentally both required surgery on their left thumbs in the preseason.
L.A. is 16-11 since the pair made their season debuts, and that included Saturday’s victory. Bryant was once again extremely effective playing in Anthony Davis‘ absence, scoring a season-high 29 points on 12-for-14 shooting with 14 rebounds.
“Thomas Bryant, I mean he plays like an AD right now, close to it,” Schroder said. “Doing a great job being ready, staying ready. We’re finding him, getting second possessions for us — offensive rebounds, clutch buckets. He’s playing great.”
The Lakers had four players score 20 or more points in the same game for the first time all season on Saturday, with LeBron James (37 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists) and Russell Westbrook (23 points, 15 assists) also doing damage.
“Just trying to figure it out and just trying to play for one another and not give in,” James said. “We don’t really care what everybody else says about our ballclub or what’s going on on the outside. We just want to play the game. When you play the game the right way, I think the basketball gods kind of give back to you.”